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McNeil government continues to show lack of respect for workers' rights with Bill 148

HALIFAX, Dec. 15, 2015 /CNW/ - With yesterday's introduction of Bill 148, the Nova Scotia Liberal government has shown once again that it has no respect for workers' collective bargaining rights and that it will continue to use the hammer of its majority to attack fairness for working people.

Bill 148 dictates wages for tens of thousands of Nova Scotia public sector workers, including more than 4,000 Unifor members who work mostly in health care. The legislation includes a two year mandated wage freeze.

"The government talks a good game about wanting a meaningful relationship with its employees and a fair collective bargaining process, but its actions say something else entirely," said Lana Payne, Unifor's Atlantic Regional Director.

"Dictating terms and conditions of a contract does not in any way shape or form constitute fair collective bargaining," said Payne. "This government's pattern has been to abuse the power of its majority to throw away workers' rights protected under the Charter and with Bill 148 it is doing so once again."

Payne noted that this is concerning for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the potential for this kind of wage restraint to spill over into the private sector, where employers will feel emboldened by the government's actions and expect workers to settle for the same kind of wage freezes.

"The frantic pace of these legislative attacks against public sector workers exposes the McNeil government's contempt for the process of fair and free collective bargaining and for the important role unions' play in the economy of Canada," said Payne.

"Rights are not disposable or adhered to only when a government wishes to do so. Governments should not be able to disregard workers' rights when they find them inconvenient or simply have no respect for them. Instead of constantly picking fights with public sector employees, it's time for the McNeil government to try working with others."

Payne suggested that perhaps the provincial Liberals should follow the lead of their federal cousins and try working with the labour movement instead of its current heavy-handed approach to governing.

Unifor is Canada's largest private sector union, with more than 310,000 members from across the country. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged.